Passion fruit

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Code: f294
Latin name: Passiflora edulis
Source material: Fruit pulp
Family: Passifloraceae
Common names: Passion fruit, Granadilla, Grenadilla, Maypop, Apricot vine, Passion vine

Passiflora edulis – Purple/Black passion fruit
Passiflora edulis flavicarpa - Golden/Yellow passion fruit

Not to be confused with other, closely-related members of the genus:

Passiflora caeulea
Passiflora foetida
Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora quandrangularis
Passiflora pulchella
Passiflora alata
Passiflora herba

Passiflora incarnata and Passiflora edulis are 2 important plants of the family Passifloraceae that have been reported as synonymous in many literature references because of their identical morphological and microscopic characteristics. (1) But P. incarnata is a popular sedative and anxiolytic, whereas P. edulis is rarely reported to possess significant central nervous system depressant activity. P. edulis, as the name of the species reflects, is grown mainly for eating.


A food, which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.

Allergen Exposure

Passion fruit is grown in much of the tropical and subtropical world, including Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Malaya, Fiji and Hawaii. However, the plant has proved significantly disease-prone, retarding the development of plantations and commercial markets. The name derives from the flowers' resemblance to the implements of crucifixion.

The passion fruit vine is a woody, climbing, evergreen perennial, growing up to 9 m tall. The nearly round or ovoid fruit, 4-7.5 cm wide, has a tough, smooth, waxy rind, ranging from dark-purple with white flecks to light-yellow or orange. (The main varieties are purple and golden passion fruit, but these can be crossed, and there are many hydrids.) Under a thin layer of white pith is a cavity with an aromatic mass of membranous sacs filled with orange-coloured, pulpy juice, and as many as 250 small, hard, pitted seeds. The flavour is musky and sub-acid to acid and can probably be compared most closely to guava.

The fruit is usually used for flavouring other foods, but it can be eaten on its own, raw or cooked. It is normally allowed to wrinkle and develop sweetness. It is juiced, made into syrup or used in sauces, cakes, etc. In some countries it is the source of speciality products such as passion fruit ice cream and bottled cocktails. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

The pulp of the fruit is stimulant and tonic.

See under Environment. Extracts from the aerial parts of the closely related Passiflora incarnata and P. herba are widely used as components of herbal sedatives. (2) The extract of P. incarnata exhibited significant anxiolytic activity at an oral dose of 125 mg/kg, whereas P. edulis is devoid of any significant activity. (3) P. coerulea may also possess anxiolytic properties. (4)

Allergen Description

No allergens from this plant have yet been characterised.

A class I chitinase has been reported to be present in the pulp of passion fruit. (5, 6)

A hevein-like protein has been detected. (7)

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Extensive cross-reactivity between the different individual species of the genus could be expected, but has not been formally evaluated. (8)

A class I chitinase has been reported to be the relevant protein linked to cross-reactions in latex-fruit allergy syndrome, which includes passion fruit, cherimoya, kiwi, papaya, mango, tomato and wheat. (5, 9)

A class I chitinase from avocado or latex extract was used as an inhibitor in a study the aim of which was to evaluate the role of chitinases and complex glycans as cross-reactive determinants linked to latex-food allergy. Putative class I chitinases of 30 to 45 kDa were recognised by both specific polyclonal antibodies to chitinases and sera from patients with latex-fruit allergy in chestnut, cherimoya, passion fruit, kiwi, papaya, mango, tomato, and wheat flour extracts. Prs a 1, the major allergen and class I chitinase from avocado, along with the latex extract, strongly or fully inhibited IgE binding by these components when tested in immunoblot inhibition assays. Additional bands of 16 to 20 kDa, 23 to 28 kDa, and 50 to 70 kDa were detected by the anti-chitinase serum, but not by the patients' pooled sera. The putative 30- to 45-kDa chitinases present in different food extracts did not react with a pool of sera from subjects who were allergic to latex but not to fruit. The study concluded that putative class I chitinases seem to be relevant cross-reactive components in foods associated with latex-fruit syndrome, but do not play a specific role in those with allergy to latex but not to fruit. Cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants are not important structures in the context of latex-fruit cross-sensitisation. (6)

Clinically relevant cross-reactivity between latex and passion fruit has been documented. (7)

In children, cross-reactivity has been reported among apricot, avocado, banana, cherry, chestnut, grape, kiwi, papaya, passion fruit, peach and pineapple. (10)

Healthcare providers who have coexisting risk factors, such as atopy and food allergies (chestnut, banana, avocado, passion fruit, celery, potato, and peach) are at an even greater risk of severe allergic reactions following repeated latex exposure. (11)

Clinical Experience

a. IgE-mediated reactions

Passion fruit may occasionally induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals, and more frequently in latex-allergic individuals. (5, 7, 9, 10, 11)

A 36-year-old experienced generalised urticaria, oropharyngeal pruritus, tongue swelling, dysphagia, dysphonia, cough, rhinorrhea, sneezing, lacrimation, and ocular itching immediately after drinking a can of mango and passion fruit juice. Specific IgE levels to passion fruit, chestnut, latex, and rHev b 6.02 (hevein) were 2.17, 0.72, 10.50, and 14.30 kUA/L, respectively. (7)

IgE-mediated occupational asthma and rhinitis to P. alata (related to P. edulis) and Rhamnus purshiana were reported in a patient who worked in a pharmacy devoted to the manual preparation of herbal products. (12)

b. Other reactions

A 34-year-old female developed severe nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, prolonged QTc interval on her ECG, and episodes of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia following self-administration of the herbal remedy Passiflora incarnata (related to P. edulis, but with bioactivity) in therapeutic doses. The association of symptoms with Passiflora was not recognised for several days. She required hospital admission for cardiac monitoring and intravenous fluid therapy. (13)

Vasculitis associated with an herbal preparation containing Passiflora extract has been reported. (14)


Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman,


Citing This Page:

Steinman HA. f294 Passion fruit. Accessed (date to be filled in).


Updated: 30/11/2012


  1. Dhawan K, Kumar R, Kumar S, Sharma A. Correct Identification of Passiflora incarnata Linn., a Promising Herbal Anxiolytic and Sedative. J Med Food 2001;4(3):137-44.
  2. Krenn L. Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata L.)--a reliable herbal sedative. [German] Wien Med Wochenschr 2002;152(15-16):404-6.
  3. Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Comparative biological activity study on Passiflora incarnata and P. edulis. Fitoterapia 2001;72(6):698-702.
  4. Wolfman C, Viola H, Paladini A, Dajas F, Medina JH. Possible anxiolytic effects of Passiflora coerulea. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1994;47(1):1-4.
  5. Diaz-Perales A, Collada C, Blanco C, Sánchez-Monge R, Carrillo T, Aragoncillo C, Salcedo G. Class I chitinases with hevein-like domain, but not class II enzymes, are relevant chestnut and avocado allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;102(1):127-33.
  6. Diaz-Perales A, Collada C, Blanco C, Sanchez-Monge R, Carrillo T, Aragoncillo C, Salcedo G. Cross-reactions in the latex-fruit syndrome: A relevant role of chitinases but not of complex asparagine-linked glycans. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104(3 Pt 1):681-7.
  7. Cabanillas B, Rodríguez J, Blanca N, Jiménez MA, Crespo JF. Clinically relevant cross-reactivity between latex and passion fruit. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2009;103(5):449.
  8. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09.
  9. Brehler R, Theissen U, Mohr C, Luger T. "Latex-fruit syndrome": frequency of cross-reacting IgE antibodies. Allergy 1997;52(4):404-10.
  10. Twarog FJ. Food-induced allergy in childhood. Allergy Asthma Proc 1998;19(4):219-22.
  11. Zaglaniczny K. Latex allergy: are you at risk? AANA J 2001;69(5):413-24.
  12. Giavina-Bianchi PF Jr, Castro FF, Machado ML, Duarte AJ. Occupational respiratory allergic disease induced by Passiflora alata and Rhamnus purshiana. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1997;79(5):449-54.
  13. Fisher AA, Purcell P, Le Couteur DG. Toxicity of Passiflora incarnata L. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38(1):63-6.
  14. Smith GW, Chalmers TM, Nuki G. Vasculitis associated with herbal preparation containing Passiflora extract. Br J Rheumatol 1993;32(1):87-8.

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.